Monday, July 06, 2009

Gavriel Lipkind, Carrie Knowles, and the B.C.O.

I don't know how to say this properly, because I know so little about classical music. I'm a fan of hip-hop and old rock and roll. I play the serious stuff mainly as background while I'm reading, and go to classical concerts mainly to get dressed up and go out on the town with friends and sit under nice chandeliers and listen to pretty music that I don't usually recognize.

But last night I went to a concert that was extraordinary. Even for a clunk like me.

Israeli cellist Gavriel Lipkind played with the Brussels Chamber Orchestra (of Belgium) in Raleigh in the official opening night of the Cross Currents Chamber Music Arts Festival, an international chamber music festival created and put on single-handedly by my friend and office partner Carrie Knowles whose son Neil Leiter plays viola in the Brussels group.

For most of the last year, Carrie has sat in the office next to mine and raised money and gotten visas and such and made this ten-day festival happen. What she has done is an amazing demonstration of what one person can accomplish (in spite of my telling her repeatedly and unhelpfully that she was mad to attempt such a thing. Just watching the process from next door was like having an office next to a heliport)

Well, the Brussels Chamber Orchestra, a conductor-free group of a dozen or so young musicians from half a dozen countries, played beautifully and were intriguing to watch. Then they brought out their soloist, Lipkind, whom I'd had no special interest in because I was mainly listening for Neil whom I've known since he was a wee fellow. The Belgium-based musicians had met the Israeli cellist in Norway.

Lipkind and the BCO together were an astonishing treat. And at intermission, I caught sight of Mamie, a regular here, who called out: I'm looking forward to reading about how bold he is.

I hadn't even thought about writing of the experience. Sitting on the second row, I was too overwhelmed. Lipkind, in a black "bat" shirt and long gold curls, is the most physically expressive, playful, and joyous musician I've ever seen. It's not reaching for a metaphor to say that he was making love to the music.

I can't tell you a thing about his or anyone's pizzicati (and I'm not sure if that's a word or if it's a word meaning little pasta), but it was thrilling music to watch and to listen to. And the interaction between him and the other musicians was like watching a celestial drama.

Seriously bold. Nobody holding back.

And this group of musicians and Carrie did their job well, at least in my case, since it's part of their mission to bring chamber music to new audiences.

Add to - Stumble It! - Subscribe to this feed - Digg it


mamie said...

Like you, Peggy, I am no classical music expert. My father used to play it all the time, so I recognize many pieces but have no idea who wrote them. I prefer what our friend, Nancy, calls "cloud music" - new age, single instrument (well, maybe a piano and a cello) when I'm working. Classical music at its most complex makes me feel agitated.

Last night, though, with nothing to distract me, I was in awe of the person who wrote those complicated pieces, the musicians who flawlessly played them, and even the audience who knew just when to clap. But Gavriel? I've never seen a musician so intimately involved with an instrument, a group, and the music. I was envious of the first violin, who was the object of his attention much of the night. Very, very bold performance, and well described in your post.

Peggy Payne said...

And I wonder if Lipkind had the courage to play with that kind of joyous abandon in high school, or it it's something he came to more recently.

(I also like "cloud music"--great description.)